Glaucoma is when fluid builds up in the front part of a child’s eye, which can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision problems.
Pediatric glaucoma is an eye disease that causes fluid to build up in the front part of a child’s eye. As the fluid continues to build, the pressure increases in the child’s eye and causes damage to the optic nerve. This damage can lead to peripheral (side) vision issues and blindness. Childhood glaucoma is rare.
There are two main types of glaucoma in children:
- Open-angle glaucoma – When a child’s eye doesn’t drain fluid properly, the extra fluid creates eye pressure. This pressure builds and can damage the optic nerve. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. It’s typically painless.
- Closed-angle glaucoma – When a child’s iris (the colored part of the eye) is too close to their drainage angle (where the fluid drains from the front of the eye), the iris can completely block the fluid drainage. This causes the eye pressure to rise very quickly, which can become a medical emergency resulting in blindness.
Symptoms of glaucoma can vary depending on whether it is congenital (present at birth), infantile (develops between the ages of 1 month to 2 years) or juvenile (develops when a child is 3 years or older).
Symptoms in congenital/infantile glaucoma include:
- Cloudy cornea (front surface of the eye that is normally clear)
- Dull iris (colored part of eye)
- Light sensitivity
Symptoms in juvenile glaucoma
With juvenile glaucoma, there are typically no obvious symptoms at first. As the condition continues, children may develop blind spots in their side vision as the eye pressure builds.